Kai Kristiansen & Friends
Was established in 2018 with the vision of relaunching more of Kai Kristiansen’s unique furniture designs. Today, we offer a selected collection of great furniture classics designed by architect Kai Kristiansen. The furniture is produced in the highest possible quality by patinated craftsmen. All productions are approved and supervised by Kai Kristiansen himself, who is still active in design circles. Under "vintage products" there's collected a catalogue of furniture designed by Kai Kristiansen that is not currently in production – these can often be found in vintage stores and on auctions.
All Kai Kristiansen & Friends furniture are manufactured by the highest standards of the industry by leading artisans around the world. This gives all of our furniture an extraordinary level of quality and comfort. Since the first Kai Kristiansen designs was made, there has been many manufacturers producing the furniture. Common for the manufacturers is that they have been willing to collaborate and be part of the product development of beautiful designs. The development have always been done in collaboration with Kai Kristiansen and only the best quality has been accepted. From the first design, it was Kai Kristiansen who found and chose the manufacturers for the different projects. Today, Kai Kristiansen is still active at the age of 93 and is pursuing the best possible quality and design.
Sustainability in the essence of Kai Kristiansen work. Kai Kristiansen’s designs are unique and timeless. His furniture is made with craftsmanship and in good quality. – This is why, furniture made over 50 years ago is still in use by proud owners or resold to furniture enthusiasts and collectors all over the world. Kai Kristiansen’s designs is well known at auctions and well-established vintage shops.
About Kai Kristiansen
Kai Kristiansen started his professional career as an independent designer in 1954, the same year that the successful exhibition Design in Scandinavia started touring the United States, supporting the already established concept of “Danish Modern”, which contained a powerful image of functional, high-quality furniture. Danish design, both furniture and crafts had been made popular in Europe and the US after the Second World War, and during the 1950s and 60s exports were increasing. Due to the high demand, both in Denmark and abroad, Danish furniture manufacturers were facing a new possibilities as well as challenges in terms of production and sales.
Three years earlier, in 1951, Kristiansen had completed his studies, both as a cabinetmaker and a furniture architect as it was called back then. When Kristiansen, after his studies, returned to his hometown in the north of Denmark, he faced the necessity of change up close. His father, a carpenter and cabinetmaker, had acquired a furniture factory specializing in the Renaissance furniture, and acquisition pointing backwards rather than forwards. Helping his father out of the poor investment with hard work must have left impression on Kristiansen who, soon after, newly wed and enthusiastic, moved to another region and started his own design practice. Kristiansen’s timing could not have been better; the demand for change and innovation was at its highest.
While the generation of designers before him had developed their careers working with cabinetmakers around Copenhagen, producing and exhibition exclusive pieces, Kristiansen set off on his adventure at a breaking point in the furniture industry when cabinetmakers all over Denmark were forced to make choices: if they wanted to survive in the new competitive field and reach a large consumer market ready for modern furniture, they would have to reinvent their production methods and facilities.
Kristiansen had settled his design practice in Brædstrup, a small town in the middle of Jutland, around one hour from Aarhus, the second largest city in Denmark. At this point it was mainly the cabinetmakers and designers in Copenhagen who received the attention. Thanks to a broad network of institutions, organizations, exhibitions, critics, passionate and skilled designers and manufacturers, Danish design had built a strong reputation reaching as far as the US, and it was now up to the rest of the Danish furniture manufacturers to follow suit if they wanted to be part of the progress. During his year of studies in Copenhagen, being taught by on of the most highly esteemed profiles, Kaare Klint, Kristiansen had learned and seen enough to bring some innovation to the provincial cabinetmakers in the middle of Jutland.
Kai Kristiansen – An Industrious Designer
Sisse Bro has written the book "Kai Kristiansen - An Industrious Designer" about Kai Kristiansen and his work. Here's her own words on why she wrote about Kai Kristiansen:
Why is Kai Kristiansen an obvious choice to write a book about? "First and foremost because many of the pieces of furniture he has designed are popular and bring joy around the world. If you google his name, thousands of results come up - mostly pictures, as very little has been written about him and the furniture until now. Kai Kristiansen started his career in 1954, exactly at the time when the Danish furniture market was growing and exports were increasing, especially to Western Europe and the USA. Therefore, his designs were already spread to a wide audience even then. With internet shopping and the renewed interest in Danish design in the last 10-20 years, they have spread even further, for example also to Japan and South Korea, where they love Kai Kristiansen's furniture
Inspiration for Kai Kristiansen
Kaare Klint shown on the picture above had a great influence on my work also Verner Panton were a great inspiration in my youth, and we became close friends and we often met at the design fairs, often in Colone. Børge Mogensen and Finn Juhl’s work has also affected me greatly. As a great admire of Klint’s thought process Mogensen took some of Klint’s classes at the Academy therefore I also received lessons from Mogensen from time to time.
Economy, Ecology And Common Sense
Today, when asked about the ideas and visions behind his work, Kristiansen repeats the same words: economy, ecology and common sense. According to him, these are the parameters he has taken into consideration throughout his career. Looking at the overall mentality and atmosphere when Kristiansen started as a designer in the early 1950s, these values corresponded to the needs in a Europe under post-war reconstruction, with limited resources and an ingrained habit of economizing. Nevertheless, Kristiansen maintained this Kai Kristiansen approach for decades to come and, combined with Klint’s mathematical systematic thinking, Kristiansen became an asset for the furniture manufacturers who wished the renew and who shared his rational and sensible values.
The topic of the world’s limited resources and how we make best use of them could not be more vital than at this moment, and fortunately it is on the agenda of a lot of designers today. Yet, the industry has grown far bigger and more complex than it was 70 years ago, and for that reason it is both meaningful and necessary to underline, with Kristiansen’ story, the importance of how design thinking can help improve our efforts towards a healthier environment. Design theories have developed extensively since the post-war period, offering designers the tools to properly analyze their work and the surrounding conditions. Although, Kristiansen’s three parameters might seem like vast and intangible concepts, they are essential and more relevant than ever.